Way back when, I was an intensely serious child. Most everyone admired me for it, in different ways. I was intelligent. I was curious. I was ‘angry’, in the sense I was fascinated by all the whys and hows of what brought all of us to where we are. I was an avid student of Black history. Hollywood history. American history.
It’s always the little, ‘insignificant’ details you remember. At some point, during senior year as we were saying our goodbyes, one of the guys said to me simply, ‘We all love you and definitely need to have brothers like you around. But don’t forget to have some fun.’
That’s how it started, it was really that simple. A lot more often, my choices became a reflection of someone who could take the weight of the world off his shoulders once in a while, and enjoy this life. Spending a spring at the Playboy Mansion. The ‘Tony Montana Dream Weekend’ in South Beach. Dinner dates with WWE Divas. And a million other episodes I’ve either genuinely forgot about, or deliberately refuse to talk about publicly.
So I’ve had fun. Too much fun? That’s debatable. Fun at the cost of other things? Sure, but even at my least responsible, I always accepted every decision I make comes with a price.
I have been doing this long enough to accept the question, not in my own mind, but in the minds of others, of whether I still had it in within myself to be the completely focused, passionate, articulate and intelligent, socially conscious and driven boy I was when so many friends, family, and mentors invested in me, and told everyone who would listen ‘Malik is the one who’s going to ‘do it’ and he’s not going to sell out what he stands for to get there.’
So I’m relieved.
I’m relieved I’ve lived long enough to grow from a pure ideologue into a three dimensional human being.
I’m relieved more often than not I’ve surrounded myself with people who gave me the latitude to grow, to make mistakes and learn from them.
I’m relieved that I’m able to live my life on my terms without doing major harm to anyone else (to my knowledge).
I’m relieved I’ve found avenues that allow me to honor those who came before me, and ideally allow me to do things that will benefit the next generation of people who look like me or have names like mine.
I’m relieved I’ve been able to build a personal and private life where the only agenda is ‘Do we enjoy each other’s company? Do we have a good time together? Do we support each other’s dreams?’
I’m relieved I’ve lived long enough and worked hard enough to get to the point where all the different elements that make up my life finally complement each other.
I’m relieved that while I know something will eventually go bad, on the whole I’ve grown into a man who enjoys life and loves life and is motivated to keep going.
All praise is due to Allah, only the mistakes have been mine.
Back after 4th of July weekend.